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What to watch for as the Golden Knights host the Flames

Vegas looks to get back on the right track against the division rival Calgary

NHL: Calgary Flames at Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights players celebrate after a goal scored by right wing Alex Tuch (89)
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights have already beaten the Calgary Flames twice, neither ending in a close game. In the first game, which, until late in the third period, looked like a Calgary win, was reversed into a Vegas 4-2 victory. The second was a 7-3 stomping by the Golden Knights. Now, with Vegas needing a turnaround, perhaps the Flames could provide it.

The biggest part of Calgary's downfall against the Knights has been the lack of performing stars. The Flames' best players, Johnny Gaudreau (23-58—81), Sean Monahan (30-33—63) and Matthew Tkachuk (24-25—49) only have three points against the Knights, with two of them coming as Tkachuk goals - he's scored in both games. Shutting down these three will be a big part of Vegas's game plan.

The Flames have recently overcome a seven-game losing skid thanks to Mike Smith coming off injured reserve and stepping up his game. Smith has a .919 save percentage and 2.60 goals against average. Smith was not in net for the worse of the two Calgary versus Vegas games, and two of the goals weren't exactly his fault.

This will be a hard game for Vegas, but as the Golden Knights get healthier, maybe overcoming another test will be huge for morale. The last few games certainly haven't been.

The power play

The Golden Knights are 27-6-1 when scoring a goal on the power play. The fact that the power play was the only aspect of the Knights' game that worked against the New Jersey Devils proves it's not the only thing needed, but it's always an important aspect.

The power play helped to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers and has been one of the best over the past seven weeks, hitting at a 32 percent clip.

That power play will only get better as Reilly Smith and James Neal are worked back into the lineup, and it will remain crucial that Vegas finds ways to score on the power play down the stretch.

Every goal the Knights can score is crucial, especially when the offense has been struggling more recently.

Shot suppression

The Golden Knights are 24-9-2 when limiting opponents to fewer than 30 shots. Interestingly, they're also 4-0-1 when allowing more than 40. If the Knights can limit the Flames to very few shots, then they'll have a better chance at getting the win.

Though the Knights lost to the Devils after allowing just 28 shots and the Minnesota Wild beat them on 30, that's more on the goaltenders than the defense.

Still, limiting teams to outside shooting areas as well as fewer shots never hurts, and the Knights have that ability. It will be on the defense to do a better job against the Flames, no matter who the goaltender is - Malcolm Subban may finally be making his hopefully triumphant (and much-needed) return.

Get the puck on net

Against Minnesota, the Knights had a Corsi victory of 51-45. The number of shots that actually went on net, however, was less impressive: 19-23. That's 32 shots that were either blocked by a player who's not the goaltender or missed the net. That's unacceptable.

Making Smith save numerous shots will always be a good thing. When the Golden Knights shoot the puck on net 30 or more times in a game this season, they're 32-14-3. That's much better than the 13-7-2 when not doing so.

Plus, putting the puck on the net gives the Knights a significantly higher chance of putting that shot in the back of the net, instead of off the glass. It will be important for the Knights to refocus, re-aim, and reload against the Flames.

How to watch

Time: 1 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM